Energy poverty is the message behind a stunning new PSA called “Give Luci,” featuring design and animation created by the STUDIO. Working with agency FCB Garfinkel, and featuring music from Found Objects, the pro-bono campaign focuses on the efforts of MPOWERD™ Inc, makers of the Luci® inflatable solar lamps, which are hugely important in poor countries affected by natural disasters.

The two-minute video shines a spotlight on the importance of access to energy by focusing on a boy named Kiama on his travels to and from school. Kiama’s lack of access to light means he, like millions of other children, cannot read or study at night or do his homework.

We spoke with the STUDIO Founder and Creative Director Mary Nittolo about the project and the animation techniques they used to create it.

So how did this project get started for you?

Mary Nittolo: I met Jacques-Philippe Piverge, one of the founders of MPOWERD, and they were looking to work with someone on his Give Luci initiative. Basically, individuals make donations and Luci’s are distributed via NGOs. Jacques had spent time in Haiti after the earthquake and was very concerned about the problems caused by being ‘off the grid’ as well as the injuries associated with oil lamps.

At the same time I was talking to Jacques-Philippe, he also started having conversations about MPOWERD with FCB Garfinkle. This project has been in the works for more than a year. Everyone involved with this – the agency, the music house, us -- we’re all doing this pro bono.

The look of this is so vibrant and distinct, what influenced your creative choices?

MN: Our original inspiration was the look of traditional shadow puppets, but as we went along we came to feel that we needed to use more familiar visual tropes. The shadow puppets concept would have looked amazing, but we didn’t think it would have made the same connection with viewers. So we ended up with an aesthetic that includes a number of influences, including shadow puppets, traditional zoetropes, cut paper animation and even a little Disney’s “The Lion King.”

The one part that stands out is the dream sequence. How did that come together?

MN: For us, that scene is the heart of the whole piece. It visually depicts what happens when you read -- how your mind goes some place else. The whole section was created in 3D using Maya and After Effects.

What stands out in your mind as being the most challenging part of this?

MN: Really the most challenging part was coming up with the overall look of the animation. Once we settled on an aesthetic it all came together. We did some tests, but what stands out for me about this is how much agreement there was among every one involved about how it should look. Once the initial animation was done and we heard the beautiful voiceover it was clear this was something special.

Any final thoughts about the spot?

MN: Usually after every project, I find myself looking back and questioning whether we should have done this or that differently, but with this project I have to say I wouldn’t change a thing. We’re all very proud of it. Across sub-Saharan Africa, 90 million primary students are without electricity. And, each year, indoor pollution from dirty fuels results in four million deaths. What MPOWERD gives is an opportunity to make a modest investment that can be life altering.”

About the STUDIO
In business for over 25 years, the STUDIO is a digital production company that unites the diverse talents of designers, artists, animators, directors and visual effects artisan to interpret projects for pages and screens everywhere. Involved in all aspects of the marketing and communication process from pre-production (storyboards and animatics) through production and post, the STUDIO supplies art, design and editorial services including digital production, animation, front end web design, dynamic banner ads, character development, murals and exhibit design with a talented roster of artists, editors, programmers, 2D and3D designers. The STUDIO has worked with Fortune 500 companies and major advertising agencies such as TBWA, FCB, Saatchi & Saatchi, Publicis, McGarry Bowen, DePirro/Garrone, Goodby Silverstein, MomentumWW, Y&R, Walton Isaacson, Euro, Digitas, Grey and BBDO; and brands such as Chase, Verizon, P&G, Pfizer, Pepsi, Sony, Kraft Foods, Colgate, Novartis, Avon, Bacardi, Starbucks, GE, Best Buy, Target among others.  For more information, visit, or follow the STUDIO on Facebook, Twitter (@TheSTUDIONYC), Instagram and LinkedIn.

The STUDIO is represented for advertising via RIAD Represents, the artist management agency led by Sherry Riad.

About RIAD Represents
Founded by Sherry Riad in 2011, RIAD Represents is an artist management agency, representing an eclectic roster of award winning artists. Currently representing Michele Asselin, Thierry Des Fontaines, Troy House, Shaniqwa Jarvis, Keena, Michael Prince, Joe Windsor- Williams, Bil Zelman and the STUDIO.